Murder, a common thing that happens in American society today, is thought of as a horrible and inhumane act of violence. Why then, is it thought of differently when the state government arranges and executes a human being Capital Punishment should not be legal in the United States. Capital punishment has been reviewed and studied for many years, exposing several inequities and weaknesses, showing why the death penalty should be abolished in the U. S. Unlike the belief of most people, the death penalty does not act as a restraint to criminals.
As stated by Alfred Blumstein, “Expert after xpert and study after study has shown the lack of correlation between the treat of the death penalty and the occurrence of violent crimes” (Blumstein, 1978). Isaac Ehrlich’s study on the limiting effects of capital punishment in America reveals this to the public. The study spans twenty-five years, from 1957 till 1982, and shows that in the first year the study was conducted, there were 8060 murders and 6 executions. However, in the last year of the study, there were 22,520 murders committed and only 1 execution performed (Blumstein, 1978).
This clearly shows that many violent criminals are not afraid of the capital punishment. The most widely used form of execution has been electrocution. With this method of executing a prisoner, the individual is strapped to a chair along with electrodes attached all over the body. The executioner then flips the switch sending a lot of electricity flowing throughout the prisoner. During this period, the prisoners flesh burns and the body shakes from the overdose of electricity. When it is all over, smoke comes from the head of the corpse (Haag, 1975).
Officials often defend this punishment as not being cruel and unusual, but how can they defend the case of John Evans who was executed by lectrocution in 1983 According to witnesses at the scene of the death of Mr. Evans, he was given three charges of electricity over a period of fourteen minutes. After the first and second charges, Mr. Evans was still conscious and smoke was coming from all over his body from his flesh burning. An official at the prison even tried to stop the execution on account of it being cruel punishment, but he was unsuccessful.
Witnesses later called the whole incident “a barbaric ritual” (Haag, 1975). Another method of execution is the gas chamber; during this procedure a prisoner is put in a chamber and forced to breathe lethal fumes from sulfuric acid and a cyanide chemical reaction. According to a statement given by the U. S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens about the 1992 execution of Donald Harding, there didnt seem to be any civilized aspect of the gas chamber. According to the report, Harding tried to hold his breath inside the chamber.
When he finally began to take in fumes, his body started going into convulsions and the muscles and veins under his skin were twitching. This execution took over eight minutes, and Mr. Harding was taking pain for most of the time. According to officials, Harding did not fall unconscious until right before his death Haag, 1975). The latest method of execution has been lethal injection. It has become deemed as the cleanest form that a prisoner can die. Its thought to be the cleanest because it does not hurt the body, unlike all of the other methods of execution.
Nonetheless, it is in the opinion of this author that this is still another terrible form of punishment. At the 1988 execution of Raymond Landry, persons at the scene had to repeatedly puncture him because he had very small veins. Also, during the procedure, the tube attached to the needle leaked, and the harsh chemicals used to kill Landry were sprayed into the direction of the witnesses Haag, 1975). Besides this case, there have been cases where the victims were not given a strong enough dosage and took in pain for several minutes while still conscious.
In a statement to the Associated Press in 1991, many police officials who have been witnesses to the death penalty, they say it should be abolished because they are sick of having to watch it and it does not prevent violent criminals from killing people. Perhaps the most frequent argument for capital punishment is prevention. The current thought is that using the death penalty will act to prevent other criminals from committing violent acts.
Numerous studies have been created attempting to prove this belief; however, all the evidence taken together makes it hard to be confident that capital punishment deters crime more than long prison terms do (Hagg, 1975). Going even farther, Bryan Stevenson, the executive director of the Montgomery based Equal Justice Initiative, said that people are increasingly realizing that the more we resort to killing as a legitimate response to our frustration and anger with violence, the more violent our society becomesWe could execute all three thousand people on death row, and most eople would not feel any safer tomorrow (Bedau 1981).
Also, with the growing humanitarianism of modern society, the number of inmates actually put to death is substantially lower than 50 years ago. This decline may make criminals think that they can get away with a crime and go unpunished. Also, the less that the death sentence is used, the more it becomes unusual, which is in conflict with the eighth amendment. This becomes kind of weird, in which the less the death penalty is used; the less society can legally use it. But, overall, this is a punishment that doesnt prevent any crime at all.